Brightly colored signs and American flags lined the sidewalks at 1145 Atwood Avenue and 167 Putnam Pike in Johnston, beckoning customers in to support victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“It was just a terrible thing that happened during the Boston Marathon. I wanted to do something special for all the bombing victims and their families,” said Ben Lemaire, owner of the two Pristine Car Wash locations, who donated all proceeds Sunday to the fund set up for bombing victims.
Lemaire designated Sunday as Boston Marathon Victim’s Day and announced that he would donate all of the day’s proceeds from his two locations to the ongoing fund.
Lemaire, who was born in Providence and has worked in the car cleaning and reconditioning industry for three years, was somewhat disappointed with the final results Sunday.
“We were looking for a really big turnout,” Lemaire said. “We were jamming Saturday with lots and lots of cars. Maybe Sunday’s weather was too good and everybody was other places enjoying the day.”
But Lemaire and his staff worked hard from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and did so knowing what their efforts would benefit.
“We’re all very proud of what we did; every little bit helps, I’m sure,” he said.
Sunday’s car wash took in a little over $700, but Lemaire will pitch in, in order to give $1,000 to the Boston Marathon Victim’s Fund.
“I’m making up the rest from the business,” Lemaire said, as he received congratulations for the day’s effort from staffers like DJ Kates, who spent time at the Putnam Pike and Atwood Avenue locations of Pristine Car Wash. “Maybe we could do something else down the road.”
Mark Buben, an attorney whose practice is in Cranston, was glad to participate in Sunday’s event.
“We can’t do enough for those people,” Buben said. “I came here especially to help. Otherwise, I like a dirty car.”
Jose Kunhardt, who works at the Putnam Pike store, was glad for the opportunity to help the bombing victims.
“That was a terrible, terrible day. I couldn’t believe it. When I found out we were doing this, I was really happy. Today, we’ve been giving it a little extra knowing that this donation will help some special people,” he said.
Lisa Deslauriers didn’t know that Pristine Car Wash was holding such a benefit before pulling into the lot; she just needed her vehicle washed and cleaned. When she found out, though, she was thrilled.
“That’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m happy to be part of today.”
It is a cause close to Deslauriers’ heart. She works at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in North Providence, and she is proud of the work her fellow health care professionals did at Boston area hospitals.
“Once we learned they were taken to those well known Boston hospitals, we knew that they would receive the best care possible,” she said. “And if it happened here, we would have done the same thing.”
Fred Goodhart, a Johnston resident who visited the Atwood Avenue car wash location, didn’t know the day’s proceeds were going to the Boston Marathon Victims Fund.
“But I think this is great,” he said, as he sat in the waiting room for his vehicle to be ready. “It’s awesome to see so many people helping from all over the country. It was great to see the outpouring of support. This is so close to home, you feel it.”
Nick Rocchio, who owns and operates Division I Landscaping in Cranston, explained that he has a month-long contract with Pristine for all his trucks.
“I’ve already been here once today, and this is the second truck I’m getting cleaned,” Rocchio said.
Although he didn’t know Sunday was dedicated as a fundraiser, Rocchio gave kudos to Lemaire and his staff.
“I think its cool that a small business like a car wash would do something like this,” he said. “Lots of small businesses aren’t making it today; it’s great to see he’s sending the day’s proceeds over to the victims fund.”